April Hope: Fertile Ground

We are set for the most beautiful spring ever in Dallas.

April Fools!

The arctic blast’s effects linger everywhere apparent: yellowed pittosporum bushes, browned out ground cover, dead or drooping fatsia, plus sad trees and hedges.

More glumness – our landscaping reflects the last year and the state of our country. How is it salvageable?

For me, a quick excursion to a familiar Florida beach pre-spring break – my first airplane ride and trip since 2019 – broke my funk. After the BP oil spill and a couple of hurricanes, this beach was thought to be unrecoverable. But, last month, I enjoyed the pristine white sand devoid of all but a handful of people and the diamond dappled clear blue ocean. I felt soothed and happy – long overdue feelings.

In 1982, when selling a home in Mississippi to move back to Texas, the interest rates were over 16%. It was a buyer’s market, and sellers had to get creative to get their homes sold. A great uncle in banking solemnly intoned that interest rates would never be in single digits again. Ahem.

We’ve lost so much in the last year: for children, education and play; income for many; freedom of movement (and, many would say, speech), plus peace. Is this irrevocable?

An antidote for grief, anger, upset for me has always been digging in the dirt and planting. So as I survey my bedraggled yard, I begin cleaning out, pruning, mulching, soil preparation, planting, fertilizing, and watching.

It’s an apt metaphor for our nation. There is not necessarily parity in a garden. Shade plants won’t tolerate the sun and vice versa. It takes trial and error for a garden to grow, some failures, common sense, and a little luck. In stubborn areas of my yard, I’m not immune to filling in with artificial foliage. I need help.

My spirit is willing but lately, not my back — another metaphor for rebuilding our bruised nation.

And so I am starting the process with the digging out and pruning. I’m smiling at the flats of plants and flowers that will go into the ground. I’m humming that wonderful Arlo Guthrie song made famous by Peter, Paul, and Mary. “Inch by inch, row by row, I’m gonna make this garden grow, gonna do it with a rake and a hoe, and a piece of fertile ground.”

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Len Bourland

The views expressed by columnist Len Bourland are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of People Newspapers. Email Len at [email protected].

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